ATHENS – TV commentator, publisher and leader of a fringe party Giorgos Trangas was a provocative anti-vaxxer who opposed COVID-19 shots and it killed him – but has revived a debate over the shots.
Giorgos Trangas, 71, who had diabetes, died at a state hospital in Athens after being admitted on Dec. 4 with severe breathing difficulties. He was unvaccinated and his party, Free People, was critical of vaccine mandates.
“I think he thought that he would just tough it out, the way he had with so many other things in his life, as if it’s like getting the flu,” Zoupas told state-run ERT television. “I tried to persuade him to get vaccinated up until the last moment,” he said.
From the hospital, he said he was “dancing the tango” with the deadly disease and it turned out to be his last as he disbelieved in the vaccinations until it brought his end, as it has for many other anti-vaxxers spreading the virus.
His death from respiratory failure and complications while in one of Greece’s overwhelmed public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICUs) focused attention on the elderly especially being vulnerable, comprising a huge majority of those in hospitals, ICUs, and deaths.
With a quarter of the adult population unvaccinated, Greece is suffering a third major surge of infections this winter with the COVID-19 death rate just below peak levels recorded a year ago, hitting a record 130 deaths on Dec. 14.
The government has imposed a vaccination mandate on residents over age 60 to be enforced in January with a 100-euro ($113) monthly fine, while vaccination certificates will also expire after seven months for seniors who fail to get a booster shot.
The New Democracy government has put restrictions on the unvaccinated to keep them out of public gathering spots, not including supermarkets and pharmacies, and the Greek Church said it won’t bar them either.
Despite the unvaccinated spreading the Coronavirus and perpetuating a lingering fourth wave, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he has no plans to require shots for all.
The country’s vaccination rate had stuck at 62 percent of the population of 10.7 million people – below the 70 percent benchmark that health officials said was needed to beat back the pandemic – but it is rising after record cases, hospitalizations, people in ICUs and deaths has scared people into getting their shots and boosters as well.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)